President Emmerson Mnangagwa has issued a strong warning against corruption at Zimbabwe’s borders, saying his government will be ruthless with culprits.
Mnangagwa extended the warning to illegal vendors, touts, conmen and pickpockets who loiter at the border posts that his government was determined to ensure travellers were safe within border posts.
He was speaking during the ground breaking ceremony of the $241 million expansion of the Beitbridge Border Post on Wednesday
“I direct all men and women within our border control institutions to stop all forms of corruption and chicanery.
Perpetrators will face the full wrath of the law. Please stand warned,” he said.
“In the same vein touts, conmen and others who loiter around the border post areas for various illegal reasons should also stand warned.”
Mnangagwa said a system where travellers were forced to pay bribes due to threats of repeat searches by officials should end.
Border officials, including different departments of the police, CIO and army personnel stand at different points inside the border, each group demanding to search vehicles.
Weary travellers and motorists end up offering bribes to be allowed to pass.
Several border officials have over the years been arrested on allegations of soliciting and accepting bribes.
Mnangagwa said the expansion of the border post will also treble the number of vehicles currently passing through Beitbridge, while smoothening the trade between the North and South corridors.
Road transporters who pay millions of dollars annually in transit fees and other road levies have of late been shunning Beitbridge, citing bottlenecks and corruption at the border post.
Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Joram Gumbo who accompanied Mnangagwa said Beitbridge border expansion had been prioritised in the because of its capacity to accelerate the movement of goods in landlocked Sadc countries.
“The developments at this border post will enable trade goods and passengers to be processed expeditiously avoiding lengthy storage times at the border post.
“The project will also assist in providing an efficient route to ports such as Durban for goods destined outside Africa,” he said.
A consortium of companies known as Zimborders comprising local and international partners won the tender for the expansion project on a build-operate-transfer concept.
A model of the border shows traffic separately categorised as heavy commercial vehicles, smaller motorists and pedestrians all to be served from different points.
Mnangagwa said the long-awaited dualisation of roads leading to Chirundu via Harare and Victoria Falls via Bulawayo would commence soon to complement the expanded border post.
“This timely development will boost efficiency levels at Beitbridge and allow further developments into a one-stop border post,” he said.